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Media Audiences

There are five theorists associated with Media Audiences

o Albert Bandura
o George Gerbner
o Henry Jenkins
o Clay Shirky
o Stuart Hall

You will need to able to apply their theories when you analyse examples.
Albert Bandura – Media Effects theory

An audience can be influenced


by media products which can
lead to copy-cat behaviour.

For example, watching a violent


film can make someone act in a
violent manner.
The media can influence people directly –
human values, judgement and conduct can
be altered directly by media modelling.

Media representations of aggressive or


violent behaviour can lead to imitation.

The media may influence directly or by social


networks, so people can be influenced by
media messages without being exposed to
them. Different media have different effects.
The ‘new’ media offer opportunities for self-
directedness.
Gerbner – Cultivation theory
Representations of groups of people are formed over time
by repetition in the media.

If you see something once you can ignore it but if you see
that representation repeated in a number of media sources
you are more likely to believe it.

These repeated representations change our perceptions


over time and they create an idea in society of what is
mainstream.

If we see repeated positive (or negative) representations,


over time, this will become the dominant ideology.
Exposure to television over long periods of time
cultivates standardised roles and behaviours.

Gerbner found that heavy users of television were more


likely to develop ‘mean-world syndrome’ – a cynical,
mistrusting attitude towards others – following
prolonged exposure to high-levels of television violence.

Gerbner found that heavy TV viewing led to


‘mainstreaming’ – a common outlook on the world
based on the images and labels on TV. Mainstreamers
would describe themselves as politically moderate.
Jenkins – Fandom theory
Fans act as textual poachers – taking elements from media texts to create their own
culture.

The development of the new media has accelerated participatory culture, in which
audiences are active and creative participants rather than passive consumers.

They create online communities, produce new creative forms, collaborate to solve
problems, and shape the flow of media. This generates collective intelligence.

From this perspective, convergence is a cultural process rather than a technological one.
Jenkins prefers the term spreadable media to terms such as viral, as the former
emphasises the active, participatory element of the new media.
Shirky – End-of-audience theory

Audience behaviour has changed due to the internet and the ability for audiences to
create their own content at home thanks to the lower cost of technology. This new
audience doesn’t just consume media, but also produces it – creating the term
‘prosumer’.

Amateur content made this way has different values to professional media producers,
in that it promotes a connection between other amateur producers – they both deeply
care about the products they make and can help them work together.

When they work together in this way, audiences can make more content than
producers – Wikipedia is a good example of this.
Hall – Reception theory

People who make media products put ideas in their texts which they expect audiences
to understand. Hall calls this a preferred reading, as this is what the producers of the
text wanted them to understand.

However, each audience is different, so they might understand the text completely
different to what was intended. Hall calls this an oppositional reading.

Finally, if the reading of the text by the audience is somewhere between the two, this
is called a negotiated reading.